Monday, January 31, 2005
Get Real
These are just some random observations and happy thoughts for a Monday....

I spent three nights this weekend at the hospital with my Mom (she's home now and doing better). Any time I am at a hospital it always gives me cause to ponder the simple frailty of life. This time was no different. I saw it in the faces of the family members coming to visit. I saw it each time I saw the other patients or heard them sigh or cough or moan. It amazed me every time a medical staff member spoke to a patient asking, How are you?" The answer was inevitably, "Fine." Really? Are you really fine? How often to we truly answer that question?

Come stai?
Comment ça va?
Wie geht es dir?
Ti kaneis?
Hur är det?

It doesn't matter what language it's in or whether it is formal or informal. We all seem to answer, "Fine" or "Fine, thanks" before returning the same useless question, "How 'bout yourself?" I was guilty of this myself prior to treatment. Since then I began to answer with meaning. Now you typically get a "Fabulous" or a "Great," because that is truly how I feel. Long gone are the tired and achy chemo days and the sore "don't lift anything" post surgery days. I do feel great and love the opportunity to answer that question!

It is the same when I ask the question; I truly want to know the answer. I want to connect on a personal level. How are you? Tell me how you really feel. If you are great I want to celebrate that with you. If you are less than "fine" I want to support and uplift you. Isn't that what it means to be part of community? "Fine" just separates us even further from one another. Isn't life too short to not be real with one another?

Who knew that cancer would make me an advocate for people to "Get Real." And perhaps not just an advocate, but someone with a mission. Believe it or not it has made me even more impatient (if that were possible). When someone says they are "fine" more than once in a week, my response has become, "That's too bad." I surely want to feel more than fine once in awhile! If cancer has taught me anything, it has taught me to embrace life with everything I have inside of me. Simply being fine is not an option any longer.

There are two people I have met who are also learning life lessons from breast cancer. One is Marci. She is now half way through her chemo and outside of being very tired, has not felt sickly from the chemo at all. She has been a strong warrior in this battle and I hope you all offer some good thoughts her way so she can keep her spirits high! Another person is Mary. She has just started her online journal. If you would like to offer her your support, visit her here. The network of breast cancer survivors is more like a sorority and, unfortunately, we always make room for more. As awareness grows, I know in my heart that breast cancer will be eradicated as a life threatening disease.

Speaking of growing, I have visit number two today in my "puberty" series. I'll let you know how the expansion goes this time around!

Well, don't just sit there. Go out and make it a more than fine day!
Written by Jeannette Vagnozzi
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Name: Jeannette
Location: Southern California, USA

This is my story about being diagnosed with breast cancer at age 39. I thought I was out of the woods, but four years late it came back. This is my quest to be a two-time survivor.

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